Police reform in India


  • The police must develop ‘smart tactics’ to address the changing nature of violence.

Meaning of Police:

According to Blacks law dictionary, Police is the function of that branch of the administrative machinery of government which is charged with the preservation of public order and tranquillity, the promotion of the public health, safety, and morals, and the prevention, detection, and punishment of crimes.

Constitutional provisions:

  • Police is an exclusive subject under the State List (List II, Schedule 7 of the Constitution).
  • However, the centre is also allowed to maintain its own police forces to assist the states with ensuring law and order
  • The present Indian police system is largely based on Police act of 1861
  • After independence some states came out with their own police acts, for example Bombay Police Act, 1951, Kerala police act 1960, Delhi police act 1978.

Responsibilities of Centre and States:

  • State police forces are primarily in charge of local issues such as crime prevention and investigation, and maintaining law and order.
  • The central forces are specialised in dealing with such conflicts like For example, the Central Reserve Police Force is better trained to defuse large-scale riots with least damage to life and property, as compared to local police.

Related facts:

  • Number of police personnel:
  • In India: There were 17.2 million police officers across 36 states and Union Territories, when there should have been 22.6 million, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.  This is lowest police-population ratio in the world.
  • Other countries: In the US, there is an officer for 436 people, Spain one for 198, in South Africa, 347.
  • Global Average: The global average ratio of police-population is 270 to 100,000, where it’s 120 in India.
  • UN recommendations: The UN recommended number of police personnel per lakh population is 222.
  • Crime per lakh persons increased by 28% from 2005 to 2015.

Need for police reforms:

  • Police act in India is primarily based on 1861 act, which is contrary to democratic requirement.
  • Lack of technological capabilities necessary to perform quality investigations.
  • Politicization and allegiance towards ruling party.
  • Lowest police-to-population ratio. Due to which people of India are least secured people on the globe.
  • Corruption is a major challenge.
  • Lack of effective accountability mechanisms.
  • Registering a criminal case against a police officer is a long and unwieldy process.
  • Lack of effective means to collect and analyse the intelligence data collected.
  • Deteriorating quality of state investigation departments.
  • Lack of coordination within police departments.
  • Representation of women and depressed caste is low which make them insensitive towards them

Other need due to changing scenario

  • Digitilisation of crimes became more prominent way of crime today.
  • Escalating violence resulting from caste conflicts including the most recent Dalit uprising, farmers woes across the country.
  • Todays wide spread protects across the country are prompted by militant elements from outside.
  • Nature of crime has also changed which require sophistication method of Investigation and detection

Issues with Police in India

  • Huge vacancies
  • Police Infrastructure (weapons, vehicle etc)
  • Underutilisation of funds for modernisation
  • Qualifications and training of police personnels
  • Promotions and working conditions
  • Aversion towards usage of technology among police personnel
  • Societal attitude towards women and depressed class
  • Structural issue: police constable hired in class 4 category are expected to use modern scientific technology


  1. Gore committee on police training in 1971-73: The main thrust of the Committee’s recommendations was towards enlarging the content of police training from law and order and crime prevention to a greater sensitivity and understanding of human behaviour.
  2. National police commission1977, major recommendations were centered on the problem of insulating the police from illegitimate political and bureaucratic interference.
  3. In 2000, the Padmanabhaiah Committee on Police Reforms was constituted to study, inter alia, recruitment procedures for the police force, training, duties and responsibilities, police officers’ behaviour, police investigations and prosecution.
  4. The Police Act Drafting Committee (PADC or Soli Sorabjee Committee) that drafted a new model police bill to replace the colonial 1861 Police Act.
The ARC recommended separation of crime investigation from other police functions ie maintenance of law and order, establishment of state police boards, welfare and grievances redressal mechanisms for police personnel.


Supreme Court Judgments:

The 2006 verdict of the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh vs Union of India case was the landmark in the fight for police reforms in India. The Court provide following directives to kick-start reforms:

  • Constitute a State Security Commission (SSC) to ensure that state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police.
  • Ensure that the DGP is appointed through the merit-based transparent process and secure a minimum tenure of two years.
  • Police officers on operational duties (including SP and SHO) are also provided a minimum tenure of two year.
  • Separate the investigation and law and order functions of the police.
  • Set up a Police Establishment Board (PEB)to decide transfers, postings, promotions and other service related matters of police. F)
  • Set up a Police Complaints Authority (PCA)at state level to inquire into public complaints against police officers of above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.
  • Set up a National Security Commission (NSC)at the union level to prepare a panel for selection and placement of Chiefs of the Central Police Organizations (CPO) with a minimum tenure of two years.


 NITI Aayog suggested the following reforms:

  • State level legislative reforms:
  • States should be encouraged, with fiscal incentives, to introduce ‘ The Model Police Act of 2015’ as it modernizes the mandate of the police.
  • Administrative and operational reform
  • A Task Force must be created under the MHA to identify non-core functions that can be outsourced to save on manpower and help in reducing the workload of the police.
  • Functions such as serving court summons and antecedents and addresses verification for passport applications or job verifications can be outsourced to private agents or government departments.
  • The states should be encouraged to ensure that the representation of women in the police force is increased.
  • India should launch a common nation-wide contact for attending to urgent security needs of the citizens.
  • NITI Aayog also suggests moving police as well as public order to the Concurrent List to tackle increasing inter-state crime and terrorism under a unified framework.

Steps taken by the government:

  • Commonwealth Human Rights initiatives: It aims to realize increased demand for right-based police reform and strengthening of police accountability in the Commonwealth.
  • In April, 2010 Delhi came up with a Draft Delhi Police (Amendment Bill). It disturbed the internal logic of the Principal Delhi Police Act of 1978 and in every way thwarted the directives of the Apex Court.
  • The National Intelligence Gridor NATGRID: Is the integrated intelligence grid connecting databases of core security agencies of the Government to collect comprehensive patterns of intelligence that can be readily accessed by intelligence agencies.
  • The Indian Police Foundation was inaugurated in 2015 to mount pressure on State governments to implement the directions of the Supreme Court on police reforms (Prakash Singh v. Union of India).

Best Practices:

Janamaithri Suraksha in Kerala: This project is an initiative of the Kerala Police to facilitate greater accessibility, close interaction and better understanding between the police and local communities. For example, Beat Constables are required to know at least one family member of every family living in his beat area, and allocate some time to meet with people outside the police station every week. Janamaithri Suraksha Committees are also formed with municipal councillors, representatives of residents’ associations, local media, high schools and colleges, retired police officers, etc. to facilitate the process.

Meira Paibi (Torch-bearers) in Assam: The women of the Manipuri Basti in Guwahati help with improving the law and order problem in their area, by tackling drug abuse among the youth. They light their torches and go around the basti guarding the entry and exit points, to prevent the youth of the area from going out after sunset.


  • Need to strengthen Criminal Justice System and grassroots level policing institutions.
  • Strengthen its investigative capabilities and emergency response infrastructure.
  • More investment is needed in the recruitment procedure.
  • Better training, better pay and allowances and creating a system that rewards initiatives need to be incorporate.
  • Increase budget expenditure on police.
  • Improving police infrastructure.
  • Independent Complaints Authority.
  • Need to adopt latest IT- enabled services.
  • Improve Citizen police participation like bhagidari in delhi and janamaitri suraksha in kerala
  • Police should be made more gender sensitive. 33% women reservation in police should be implemented
  • There is need for broader political awareness about the need for police reform. Some states like Kerala and Telangana have tried to take the process forward.
  • PM Modi, at the Guwahati Conference of the Directors of General Police in 2014, enunciated the concept of SMART Police-a police which should be sensitive, mobile, alert, reliable and techno-savvy.
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